THE BOOK OF DANIEL, Chapter 11
[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
11 Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.
The events recorded in Daniel 5:31-6:27 and chapter 9 also occurred during the first year of Darius. Continuing from chapter 10, the angel is still speaking here. Commentators debate whether the angel strengthened Darius or Michael (Daniel 10:21).
The angel will now begin the longest prophesy recorded in the Bible. The traditional view is that: verse 2 refers to Medo-Persian kings, verse 3 refers to Alexander the Great, verses 4-20 refers to the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms, verses 21-35 refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, and verses 36-40 refers to the Antichrist. Many, however, believe that verses 36-40 refer to Herod the Great as a foreshadow of the Antichrist. As I have mentioned before, however, most prophecies have a dual fulfillment, so it is very likely that the entire prophesy has an end-times fulfillment. Indeed, a literal translation of Daniel 11 can be quite vague, and can become very confusing if we attempt to make it strictly adhere to a historical fulfillment.
2 And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.
Three kings between Darius and Xerxes (who attempted, but failed, to conquer the Greeks). Commentators debate on the exact identity of the three kings, since historians tell us there were other Persian kings during this time, though some were short-lived and did not affect the nation of Israel.
3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.
The next verse will show that this mighty king is Alexander the Great (see also- Daniel 8:5-8, 21-22). There were some Persian kings between the time of Xerxes and the time of Alexander. Yet, it was Xerxes attack on the Greeks which set the foundation for its overthrow by Alexander. The attack prompted an alliance of Greek states, which gave birth to the Grecian empire.
4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.
As mentioned in chapter 8, within about 15 years of Alexander’s death, all of his family had been murdered and his kingdom divided among his four most powerful generals (Seleucus in the east; Cassander in the west; Ptolemy in the south, and Lysimachus in the north). Only two of the four are mentioned in the following prophecies- the Egyptian empire under the Ptolemies (the king of the south) and the Syrian empire under the Seleucids (the king of the north). The following verses prophesy the conflicts between Egypt and Syria, in which Israel would be caught in the middle.
5 And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.
While commentators generally agree on the identities of the king of the north and of the south, there is much debate as to the identity of this prince. There is much disagreement as to whether he is associated with the king of the south in this verse, or with Alexander from the previous verse.
6 And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.
Commentators generally agree that this refers to successors of the two kings from the previous verse. To end war between Syria and Egypt, Antiochus II Theos (king of the north), and Ptolemy II, Philadelphus (king of the south) formed an alliance between these two dynasties by marriage. The daughter of Ptolomy, Bernice, was made the bride of Antiochus II in 252 B.C. But Antiochus, was already married to a woman named Laodice and they had two sons, Seleucus II Callinicus and Antiochus III. Therefore, Laodice was divorced. When Bernice’s father died, however, Bernice was rejected for Laodice. Fearful of her position, Laodice poisoned her husband and had her son (Seleucus II Callinicus) put on the throne. She also killed Bernice, her child, and her servants.
7 But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:
The brother of Bernice, Ptolemy III who succeeded his father, sought revenge for his sister’s murder. He overran much of the Syrian kingdom, and (some historians say) killed Laodice.
8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.
It was custom for a conquering king to carry off the conquered nation’s idols. Ptolemy III also took back much spoil, as well as the Egyptian idols which had been taken by Syria long before.
9 So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land.
The literal wording of this verse seems confusing. Some translations, like the KJV here, have the king of the south returning to his own land. But some translations have the king of the north attacking the kingdom of the south. There is no historical record of the latter, so some commentators believe it refers to Seleucus II regaining parts of his kingdom.
10 But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.
Most commentators believe that this refers to the sons of Seleucus II, Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus the Great, who waged war against the Egyptian kingdom. After Seleucus Ceraunus was murdered, Antiochus became king and retook the Syrian empire taken by Ptolemy III. Antiochus advanced to the border of Egypt, so Israel came under control of Syria.
11 And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.
Like verse 9, this verse can be confusing, as the “he” and “his” in the latter part of the verse could refer to either king. Historically, Antiochus (the king of the north) attacked Egypt but was driven back. Any end-times fulfillment of this prophecy, however, could be quite different.
12 And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.
Commentators generally believe that this refers to Ptolemy Philopater defeating Antiochus the Great. Yet, Ptolemy did not use this defeat to any advantage. Again, however, the identity of “he” is not clarified.
13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.
Antiochus returned to attack Egypt after Ptolemy Philopater died, and his young son, Ptolemy Epiphanes, became ruler.
14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.
Philip, king of Macedon partnered with Antiochus to conquer and divide Egypt. Also, there were many rebellions against Egypt at this time. Israel was under the rule of Egypt at this time, but some morally corrupt leaders sided with Antiochus, and also rebelled. Their rebellion, however, failed.
Commentators disagree on the meaning of “to establish the vision”. Some believe it refers simply to the fulfillment of this prophecy. Some, that it refers to the prophecy of Daniel 9. And some that it refers to some Jews who attempted to build a temple in Egypt to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 19:19.
15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.
The common historical interpretation fits rather nicely to this verse. Antiochus advanced against the Egyptian kingdom, defeating their army in the field. The Egyptians fled to the walled city of Sidon, which Antiochus besieged until they surrendered. At this point, Israel came under the control of Syria.
16 But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.
The historical chain of events appears to get a kink in it at this point. The word translated “consumed” literally means “complete destruction”. There is, however, no record of Antiochus destroying Israel in any way. In fact, he granted many favors to the Jews for their assistance. Many commentators attempt to reconcile this by saying that the large army of Antiochus sucked up the resources of the country. Yet, we shall see that, while Antiochus the Great did not seek any destruction of Israel, his conquering of the region set the stage for the atrocities of Antiochus Epiphanes against Israel.
17 He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.
Antiochus desired to enter and conquer Egypt (assisted by the Jews), but the growing empire of Rome refused to allow it. He, therefore, proposed a peace treaty, giving his daughter in marriage, with the intent of gaining control of Egypt through her. She, however, sided with her husband, and defeated her father’s scheme.
18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him.
Commentators generally agree that “the isles” refers to the Roman coast lands of the Mediterranean Sea which Antiochus sought to conquer. But, commentators generally disagree on the identity of the prince, and on whose behalf he acts.
19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.
The Romans defeated Antiochus, and he retreated to his own country, where he died. Historians say he was killed while attempting to rob a pagan temple to fund the Roman peace treaty.
20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
We are told that Seleucus Philopator, who succeeded his father Antiochus, reigned only a few years before being assassinated. He did little more, during his reign, than raise taxes to pay off the Romans. He also sent his tax collector to rob the temple treasury at Jerusalem.
21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
The Seleucid king Seleucus Philopator was succeeded by his brother Antiochus Epiphanes, who many believe was behind his assassination. Most commentators believe that verses 21-35 refer to Antiochus Epiphanes, but references to him are vague and not easily discernible. Most commentators agree that Antiochus was a foreshadow of the end-times Antichrist.
22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant.
Most commentators believe that this verse refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, but there is much debate, and difference of opinion, as to how it actually fits his actions, and as to the identity of the prince. It appears that this prophecy leans more toward addressing the end-times Antichrist (Daniel 9:26-27).
23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.
Commentators tell us that Antiochus Epiphanes came to power through deceit and with little support, and afterward made a covenant with the king of Egypt. These actions, however, seem to be in reverse to this scripture. Again, this appears to be referring more to the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Daniel 8:25; Revelation 19:20; Daniel 9:27)
24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
We are told that Antiochus conquered parts of Egypt by entering cities under the pretense of peace, and distributing gifts of bribery, through which he was able to gain control over the region. This subtle scheme worked for a time.
Concerning the Antichrist, this is his rising to power: he will be deceitful- 2 Thessalonians 2:10; he will forecast his devices against the strongholds- Revelation 13:7.
25 And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.
When his deceitful schemes for a peaceful conquering of Egypt came to an end, Antiochus openly attacked with a large army. The Egyptians met him with a large army, but were defeated, allowing Antiochus to gain more territory.
Concerning the Antichrist, we should not suppose that he will attack Egypt, as verses 40-42 seem to show that the king of the south will be different from Egypt.
26 Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
Historians tell us that the main reason for Egypt’s defeat was that Antiochus bribed and corrupted many of Ptolemy’s officers, counselors, and friends.
27 And both of these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed.
Ptolemy, being effectively a prisoner of Antiochus, met with him. Antiochus pretended to simply be seeking to establish Ptolemy, who was his nephew, on his throne. Ptolemy pretended to be grateful. Both secretly sought how to overcome the other, but neither was successful.
28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
Antiochus accumulated great wealth from conquering Egypt. But, a false report of his death led some Jews to revolt against him. Antiochus already had a special hatred toward the Jewish monotheist covenant with God. He then attacked Jerusalem with great wrath, and slew eighty thousand people, took forty thousand prisoners, and sold forty thousand into slavery (Daniel 8:24). He then looted the temple (aided by the high priest who had gotten his position through bribery) and returned home.
Concerning the Antichrist, any attack against “the holy covenant” will most likely be centered around God’s promise of the land of Israel to the Jews (Genesis 17:7-8).
29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.
After 2 years, Antiochus returned to Egypt with a large army, and with the intent to gain more territory. Commentators interpret “as the former, or as the latter” to mean the two former times.
In verse 25, we saw how “the south” would probably not refer to Egypt in an end-time application. Concerning the Antichrist, this would be the beginning of his second (probably political) attack against Israel, following the first in verse 28 (see also- Revelation 13:5-7; Daniel 7:25).
30 For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
Antiochus was met by Roman ambassadors, which intimidated him into calling off his attack. Returning home, Antiochus vented his anger upon Israel, killing many people, plundering Jerusalem, and desecrating the temple. He was supported by Hellenistic Jews who desired to abandon Judaism.
Concerning the Antichrist, it appears that he will not yet violently attack the Jews, but will be in Israel, setting the stage for his assault.
31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
While commentators generally agree that the previous verses referred to Antiochus, there now comes much debate as to whether this verse speaks of Antiochus or the Romans, or even Mohammad. It seems to me, that if the historical fulfillment is so unclear, then it is probably not of much importance to focus on the past fulfillment. We should, rather, focus on the future end-times fulfillment by the Antichrist (Matthew 24:15; Daniel 9:26-27; 8:9-12; Luke 21:20). This will be the beginning point of the most intense persecutions against Christians and Jews, commonly known as The Great Tribulation.
32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
If this verse concerns Antiochus, then we are told that this would refer to the Hellenistic Jews and to the faithful Maccabean zealots. If it concerns the Romans, then we are told that it would refer to the rebellious Jews and to Christians.
Concerning the Antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 says, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
If these verses refer to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, then this would refer to the Maccabean revolt. The view that these verses refer to the Romans, loses all strength here because the Roman persecutions of Christians were in no way tied to their destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
Concerning the Antichrist, this refers to his waging war against Jews and Christians (Revelation 6:9; 11:7; 13:7; 17:6; Daniel 7:21).
34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
There is much debate as to who “they” are, and how they will be helped, and exactly how others will cleave to them with flatteries. Most commentators, however, either believe that this refers to the Jews rebelling against Antiochus, or to the Christians persecuted by Rome.
Concerning the end-times, this seems to refer to Satan attacking the nation of Israel, and the faithful Jews being delivered by God (Revelation 12; Daniel 12:1).
35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
While many commentators continue to try to make these verses apply to Antiochus or the Romans, this verse appears to be more directed toward the end-times persecutions of Christians and Jews (Daniel 12:10-11).
36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
At this point, most commentators believe the prophesy applies to the end-times Antichrist. Some, however, try to apply it to the Romans, and a few attempt to continue applying it to Antiochus. Neither the Romans, nor Antiochus, exalted themselves above every god, though both rejected Jehovah God. The Antichrist will, however, exalt himself above every god (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
The word “indignation” refers to the wrath of God, which here seems to be directed toward this king (see also Daniel 8:19, 24-25; 9:26-27).
37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
The angel here repeats the fact that this king will disregard all gods in general, and Jehovah God specifically. The phrase “the desire of women” can either mean their desire, or his desire for them.
38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
There is much debate among commentators as to who this God of forces is, depending on who they want the king to be. This verse clearly shows that he will worship power and a god of war. If this king is indeed the Antichrist, then this would refer to his being given power to wage war against the saints. Revelation 13:4-7 says, “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (See also- Daniel 7:19-25)
The honoring with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things is referred to in Revelation 18, by the merchants who were made rich in the sale of these items to the beast-kingdom.
39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
Many commentators, and many Bible translations take the phrase “thus shall he do in the most strong holds” and change it to “he will attack (or take action against) the strong holds”, and claim he will take aggressive military action against the nations of the world. But, this implication simply is not there. “Thus shall he do” seems to refer to his honoring of the god of forces, in the previous verse, and says that he will do so in the capital cities of all the world’s superpowers. The Antichrist will lead the world rulers to honor this strange god (Revelation 17:1-2; 18:3).
The strange god is Satan, which will give power to the beast-kingdom of the Antichrist, both of which will be worshiped by the world (Revelation 13:1-4).
40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
The “time of the end” clearly refers to Biblical end-times. The word literally means “the farthest end” or “the highest peak”.
Commentators debate as to whether there are two or three kings mentioned here. Some believe the Antichrist should be viewed as the king of the north, and some believe that the Antichrist should be viewed as being attacked by the these two kings. It may be that Syria (north) and Egypt (south) will attack the Antichrist after he has set up his kingdom in Israel (Daniel 8:9-11).
41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
The glorious, or beautiful land refers to Israel (Daniel 8:9; 11:16). The countries listed here make up most of present-day Jordan. Many end-times commentators believe that this is the area into which God-fearing Jews will take refuge from the Antichrist (Revelation 12:13-16).
42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
This appears to confirm the belief, in verse 40, that Egypt will attack the kingdom of the Antichrist. Egypt will be defeated and plundered.
Many commentators believe this verse says that the Libyans and Ethiopians will be in league with the Antichrist. But, the prophecies of Jeremiah 46 and Ezekiel 30 say that these countries will fall along with Egypt. These prophecies referred to their being conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, but again, Biblical prophecies generally have a dual fulfillment.
44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
This verse can be made to vaguely fit any of the supposed historical figures. It appears that “the north” does not refer to the immediate northern country of Syria, but to the far north.
45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
Translations vary as to whether his palace is between the seas (the Mediterranean and the Dead Seas) in the holy mountain, or between the Mediterranean and the holy mountain. Regardless of the wording, this refers to Israel.
Those who try to make this king a historical figure, must now somehow try to make his palace in Israel. Most simply say the tabernacles must refer to military tents which probably were set up in Israel. I believe this is a clear reference to the Antichrist, which will rule from Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:4).